Following the death of a loved one, most people would rather think of anything else than finances, assets in an estate, or something besides the memories of the person who passed away and left our lives. However, the time will eventually come when the person named as the executor to the deceased’s estate will need to begin the probate process and divide assets among heirs and settle any outstanding taxes and debts.
Sometimes, it may take a family effort to account for assets and pass the estate through the probate court, making cooperation and understanding all the more vital to moving along with a process during and already difficult situation. However, the responsibility to pass the estate through probate will ultimately fall onto whoever was appointed as the executor of the estate in the last will and testament of the person who passed away.
First, any valuable property will need to be secured and accounted for as these items may be listed in the deceased’s last will and testament to be distributed amongst heirs, family, and friends. This should be done as soon as possible as it may be more difficult if surviving relatives help themselves to the deceased’s property while under the impression it may have been promised to them but otherwise not recorded in the will.
After securing the deceased’s valuables and taking time to grieve over the loss, it will be necessary to file the last will and testament and petition for probate with the appropriate Surrogate’s Court, usually in the county where the deceased lived. After this, the court will officially recognize the person named as the estate’s administrator and this individual will need to take the next important steps.
The executor will need to marshall all of the estates assets and inventory them for the court. Next, a checking account will need to be created in the name of the estate to settle any outstanding debts, bills, and taxes. A tax return for the estate must be filed within nine months of the passing or penalties may be incurred but extensions are available if the executor needs extra time to get things in order.
Finally, after settling debts with creditors or other interested parties, executors can begin to pay out assets from the estate. Finally, The executor must file an account with the probate court listing any income to the estate since the date of death and all expenses and estate distributions.